Sunday 5 April 2020

A Conspiracy Theory That 5G Is Causing The Coronavirus Is Spreading Alongside The Pandemic

New Agers, right-wingers, and QAnon conspiracy theorists think global elites are using 5G to spread the coronavirus pandemic.

The paranoia about 5G — the industry term for the fifth generation of wireless communications infrastructure — has risen for the last few years, but as the world battles the pandemic, a baseless hoax has spread that the technology that runs cellphones could secretly be causing the outbreak.

On Wednesday, actor Woody Harrelson posted about the conspiracy theory on his Instagram, writing, “a lot of my friends have been talking about the negative effects of 5G.” On Thursday, a 5G tower in Birmingham, England, went up in flames after a local Facebook group was flooded with anti-5G comments. (Local authorities said that it could

have possibly been an electrical issue, but are awaiting further information before investigating.)

5G has so far rolled out in about 40 countries worldwide, most notably South Korea and China, but also in dozens of US cities, including Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.

Before the coronavirus, fears about 5G tended to focus on cancer, the risk of which people feared could be increased from cellphone radiation. The evidence to support such a fear is weak to nonexistent, although meteorologists have worried that the technology could disrupt weather satellite forecasts.

Misinformation falsely claiming the coronavirus is a bioweapon has circulated since English-language reports of the outbreak began circulating in January. Depending on which internet rabbit hole you fall down, the coronavirus was created by the Chinese government, is part of a human depopulation scheme by former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, or stemmed from a tainted batch of children’s blood that the world’s celebrities drink to stay young.

So perhaps it was somewhat inevitable that these two separate conspiracy theories — that 5G had some evil purpose and that the coronavirus was a bioweapon — would graft themselves onto each other.

Nigerians on Saturday woke up to viral information being spread about the 5G technology and its connection to the novel coronavirus(COVID-19).

In fact, it generated controversies amongst social media users until the point when '5G' was listed amongst the top trending keywords on Twitter. Although similar speculations had sprung up a few days ago, a prominent fact-checking platform, AFP, found the claims to be unfounded.

"Numerous conspiracy theories shared on and off social media claim that 5G mobile networks are the cause of the novel coronavirus pandemic. This is false; experts told AFP that 5G is based on radio frequency and that this does not create viruses." AFP wrote.

However, the same claims gained more momentum and generated more furore when former Aviation minister, Fani Kayode and Senator Dino Melaye, tweeted about it. A lot of Nigerians are now calling for a boycott of the technology since the coronavirus and 5G conspiracy theory emerged.

CLAIMS: "If people knew what was unfolding & what satan & his Illuminati agents, his disciples like @elonmusk & @BillGates & the proponents of the New World Order have in mind & are doing with 5G, coronavirus &the coming Anti-coronavirus vaccines, every Christian & Muslim would join forces & PRAY!" Mr Fani-Kayode posted on Twitter.

The tweet which was posted around 00:01 am on Friday garnered over 800 retweets and 3,000 likes.

In subsequent posts on Saturday, he cautioned that Nigerians should protest against the introduction of 5G to Nigeria. In the same light, Mr Melaye, who claimed to have been doing research on the Conspiracy theory, advised that the Federal government should demobilise all 5G networks in Nigeria.

"Whether it is true or not that they are already laying cables of 5G in Nigeria or not. Govt must not allow it in Nigeria and should take a proactive step in that regard. 4G that is here in Nigeria sef na problem. 3G dey do everything I need I beg... We must watch out," He posted on Twitter.

Mr Melaye's tweet, as at 6:12 pm on Saturday, has 1312 retweets and 6706 likes.

VERIFICATION: As at the time of putting up this publication, the duo are yet to share the sources of their information.

What is 5G technology?

According to PC Mag, an international magazine, 5G stands for fifth-generation cellular wireless, and the initial standards for it were set at the end of 2017.

It is an upgrade from 4G LTE which uses 'massive' MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antennas that have very large numbers of antenna elements or connections to send and receive more data simultaneously. It is not transmitted via CABLES.

The benefit to users is that more people can simultaneously connect to the network and maintain high outputs.

While 3G networks had a typical response time of 100 milliseconds, 4G is around 30 milliseconds and 5G will be as low as 1 millisecond. That is how fast it can go,, a website that provides information about electromagnetic fields, noted.

Health Concerns

The Public Health England says while it is possible that there may be a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves when 5G is added to an existing network or in a new area, “the overall exposure is expected to remain low relative to guidelines and, as such, there should be no consequences for public health.”

Also, the World Health Organisation, WHO, in 2005, raised concerns about the unprecedented increase in the number and diversity of electromagnetic field (EMF) sources.

According to WHO, these sources include video display units (VDUs) associated with computers, mobile phones and their base stations.

"While these devices have made our life richer, safer and easier, they have been accompanied by concerns about possible health risks due to their EMF emissions."

The WHO added that exposure to EMF sources can cause Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS).EHS symptoms most commonly experienced include dermatological symptoms (redness, tingling, and burning sensations) as well as neurasthenic and vegetative symptoms (fatigue, tiredness, concentration difficulties, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitation, and digestive disturbances).

"The collection of symptoms is not part of any recognized Syndrome," the global health body noted.

On the other hand, Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans.
In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The most recently discovered coronavirus is the deadly COVID-19, which is currently ravaging the world.

There are no links between radiation and viruses against the insinuations of the two politicians. A Popular Fact-checking organization based in the UK, Full Fact has explored these claims concluding that there is no known evidence or proof that 5G can cause or is accelerating the spread of COVID-19.

There is no scientific evidence that links the coronavirus pandemic to 5G, nor any immediate negative health effects to 5G.

5G network not yet in Nigeria - FG

The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, on Saturday, has denied the deployment of 5G network. The minister said the decision was borne out of the government's efforts to protect the lives of Nigerians. He said the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), is yet to deliberate on the deployment of the network and that no license has been issued for the deployment of 5G in the country.

"A 3-month study trial commenced on the 25th of November, 2019 in order to critically review and study the health and security implications of deploying 5G in Nigeria;"

"As part of the study trial process, I directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure that a team of experts, security agencies and other stakeholders fully participated in the trial process."

"The trial process has been concluded and the study and reporting process is currently ongoing, " the statement read in parts.

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